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Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey could end decades-long EU bid because we are ‘no one’s whipping boy’

Comment comes after prime minister’s suggestion that all political and administrative links with European Union are up for review following April constitutional referendum

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey could hold another referendum on whether to continue talks on accession to the EU after the nationwide vote on constitutional reform next month which could give him sweeping new powers.

“Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16, and after that we could choose to do a second one on the [EU] accession talks, and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” Erdogan told reporters in the southern city of Antalya on Saturday.

The suggestion comes amid highly strained relations with several EU member states.

The prime minister is at loggerheads with both Germany and The Netherlands, countries which cancelled planned ‘yes’ campaign rallies on their soil for dual nationals.

Both Berlin and Amsterdam said the rallies were cancelled due to security concerns, but Mr Erdogan accused them of impeding free speech and using “Nazi methods.”

Mr Erdogan commented last week that all non-financial ties with the bloc, including the landmark 2015 refugee deal, will be on the table for renegotiating regardless of the outcome of the April vote on extending his executive power.

“Turkey has waited at the door [of the EU] for 54 years,” he said on Saturday, referring to the 1963 trade deal between Ankara and the then purely economic union.

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“What? If a 'yes' comes out on April 16, they would not take us into the European Union? Oh, If only they could give this decision! They would make our work easier,” he continued.

“We will put this [EU-Turkey] business on the table because Turkey is no one's whipping boy.”

No EU leader has said that a ‘yes’ vote - which would give Mr Erdogan the  power to appoint and dismiss government ministers and possibly stay in office until 2029 - will spell the end of Turkey’s accession to the bloc.

However, concerns over Turkey’s human rights record, as well as the fate of Cyprus, have been contributing factors to the snail’s pace at which talks have progressed since 2005.

Independent News Service

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